1882: The Baltimore Orioles were one of six teams in the newly established American Association. The American Association was second major league level baseball league along with the National League which began play six years earlier. Managed by Henry Meyers the Orioles were the worst team in the new league, finishing last place with a record of 19-54.
1883: The Baltimore Orioles move into a new stadium named Oriole Park located on the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Huntington Avenue. Despite the new surroundings the Orioles were still trapped at the bottom of the American Association, posting a record of 28-68.
1884: The American Association expands to a dozen teams which helps the Baltimore Orioles make significant improvements. Finishing in sixth place, the Orioles posted a record of 63-43 finishing just 11 and half games out of first place. Pitching was a big factor in the O’s turnaround as Bob Emslie and Hardie Henderson combined to win 59 games.
1885: The Baltimore Orioles previous season success turned out to be just a mirage as the American Association reduced itself down to eight teams, as the Orioles returned to last place. At home the Orioles were a solid team, posting a record of 29-26, but on the road they were dreadful losing 42 of 54 games as they finished the season with a record of 41-68.
1886: The Baltimore Orioles continued to be bottom feeders in the American Association again finishing dead last with a record of 48-83. Once again they would struggle away from home posting an 18-51 mark outside of Oriole Park. As the season came to an end Matt Killroy provided some excitement with the Orioles first No Hitter a 6-0 with over the Pittsburgh Alleghanys.
1887: The Baltimore Orioles put together a strong first half and were in second place into August, posting a record of 42-21 in their first 63 games. However, the Orioles would fade over the final two months and finished in third place with a record of 77-58. A key part of the Orioles season was the pitching of Matt Killroy, who won 46 games, while Oyster Burns was their leading hitter, batting .341 with nine home runs.
1888: The Baltimore Orioles would not be able to maintain their success as they again, finished in the second division of the American Association, posting a record of 57-80 that would drop them to fifth place.
1889: The Baltimore Orioles continued to be a non-factor in the race for the American Association pennant, posting another mediocre season as they finished in fifth place again with a record of 70-65.
1890: After eight unsuccessful seasons in the American Association, the Baltimore Orioles decided to step down and become a minor league team in the Atlantic Association. The Orioles would return to the American Association late in the season to replace the Brooklyn Gladiators who folded late in the season. The Orioles would post a 15-19 record in 34 American Association games.
1891: The Baltimore Orioles back full time in the American Association had one of their best seasons, in the rival league’s final season as they finished in third place with a record of 71-64. Among the Orioles top players that final season of the American Association included George Van Haltren who led the team in hitting with a .318 average and nine home runs. On the mound the Orioles top pitcher was Sadie McMahon who won 35 games.
1892: After the American Association folded the Baltimore Orioles were invited to join the more established National League. Things would not go well for the Orioles in their first season in the National League as they went through three managers. After George Van Haltren and John Waltz struggled the reigns were handed to Ned Hanlon. Hanlon would be given complete control over the Orioles as he was also given a stake in ownership. Hanlon would begin looking at building a gritty hard working team as the Orioles finished dead last among a dozen teams with a record of 46-101.
1893: Manager Ned Hanlon begins to put his stamp on the Baltimore Orioles as they begin focusing on small ball, bunting and taking the extra base at every opportunity. The new aggressive Orioles would show significant improvement, as they finished in eighth place with a record of 60-70. Among the highlights on the season came on August 16th, when Bill Hawke no hit the Washington Senators 6-0. It was his first No Hitter after baseball moved the mound to its modern distance 60 feet 6 inches.
1894: The Baltimore Orioles begin to run rough shot over the rest of the National League, with a brand of baseball that ran outside the rule book. The Orioles were also known for anti-social behavior which included foul language and regular fighting against other teams. They would also sharpen their spikes when the other team practiced all to intimidate their foes, as they slid aggressively looking to draw blood. Among the ways the Orioles bent the rules included making the dirt in front of home plate at Oriole Park hard, so players could simply chop the ball down and get a base hit, the play became known as the Baltimore Chop. The Orioles also tilted the baselines so bunt would roll fair. To help their pitchers, Baltimore would ice the ball before the game, and put soap around the mound so un-expecting pitchers would get slick hands when facing the Orioles. One of the Orioles most infamous players was infielder John McGraw, who had the nickname Muggsy and was widely known as the dirtiest player in the game. The Orioles would be at or near the top of the National League all season, surging to first place in September as they won 24 of 25 games. The Orioles would finish the season with their first pennant, posting a record of 89-39. The Orioles would go on to face the New York Giants in the first ever Temple Cup between the first and second place teams. The Temple Cup was an attempt to have some formally championship beyond the season. The Giants would sweep the Orioles, but few recognize it as there was little attention paid with most choosing to regard the pennant winner as the true champions of the 1894 season.
1895: Despite a slow start the Baltimore Orioles were again the team to beat in the National League, posting a 15-11 record in the season’s first two months. Despite a slump in July, the Orioles were in second place just three games out of first. Like the season before the Orioles would finish the season strong, posting a record of 23-5 record in August, and winning another 20 games in September as they won the National League Pennant for a second straight season posting a record of 87-43. The Orioles besides being the dirtiest team in the game, also had the best players in the game. A lineup that included Hughie Jennings who hit .386 with four home runs and 125 RBI, Joe Kelley who hit .365 with ten homer and 134 RBI, which was matched by Steve Brodie who hit .348 with two home runs. John McGraw was also one of the Orioles stars on the field hitting .369 with a team best 61 stolen bases. On the field McGraw continued to uphold the Orioles reputation for dirty play often grabbing the belt of runners at third to prevent them from scoring. Once again the Orioles would participate in the Temple Cup following the season, losing to the Cleveland Spiders four games to one.
1896: The Baltimore Orioles continued to fly high above the rest of the National League, winning the Pennant for a third straight season with a record of 90-39. They also continued to play fast and loose with the rules. During one game Shortstop Hughie Jennings attempting to throw a runner out trying to score had the ball get away and land in a bucket on the field. Trying to recover the ball Catcher Wilbert Robinson instead grabbed a sponge which Pitcher Sadie McMahon who was covering home drenched a sliding Mike Griffin. Jennings would do much better at the plate, leading the team with a .401 batting average while driving in 121 runs, while Joe Kelley supplied the power with ten home runs and a .364 average. Once again the Orioles would play for the Temple Cup following the season, this time they would be successful sweeping the Cleveland Spiders in four straight games.
1897: One of the Baltimore Orioles biggest stars, was their mighty mite Wee Willie Keeler. Standing at a hair over 5’4″, Keeler was one of the game’s scrappiest players. From the start of the season Wee Willie Keeler was destined to have one of the best season’s in baseball history as he hit safely in 44 straight games. Combined with a hit in the final game of the 1896 season, Wee Willie Keeler’s 45 game hitting streak would sit as the longest in baseball history for more than 40 years before it was topped by Joe DiMaggio in 1941. The 44 game streak is still the longest single season streak in National League history with Pete Rose equaling the record in 1978, while the 45 game career streak is second behind DiMaggio. Wee Willie Keeler would finish the season with a league best .424 average, with 239 hits. Collecting 200 hits was common for Keeler, as he would do it eight seasons in a row (1894-1901) establishing a record that would stand for more than a century before Ichiro Suzuki had nine straight seasons with 200 or more hits from 2001-2009. Despite the incredible season from Wee Willie Keeler, the Orioles grip on the National League flag would slip as they finished second with a record 90-40. Once again the National League would hold a series for the Temple Cup, and the Orioles would get a measure of revenge on the first place Boston Beaneaters, winning the series four games to one. It would be the final time the Temple Cup is played following the season. The Orioles played for the Temple Cup all four seasons, winning twice.
1898: With the Baltimore Orioles continued success grew resentment from the rest of the National League. After three pennants and two Temple Cup victories, the Orioles were hated by the other 11 teams. As a result of this hatred the Orioles became targets for opposing pitchers leading to a record 148 batters being hit by a pitch. The record still stands as the most ever for a single season in Major League Baseball. Once again the Orioles would be one of the best teams in the National League, posting a record of 96-53. However, they would fall short of winning another pennant as the Boston Beaneaters finished ahead of them with a record of 102-47. Rookie Jay Hughes provided some early season excitement tossing an 8-0 No Hitter on April 22nd against the Boston Beaneaters.
1899: As the 20th Century approached the National League had a dozen teams, but there was a feeling the league would be better off reducing to eight teams. This would lead to several teams consolidating. This included the Orioles who saw Owner Harry Von der Horst purchase the Brooklyn Bridegrooms renaming them the Brooklyn Superbas. Von der Horst would put Manager Ned Hanlon in charge of the Brooklyn franchise with several of the Orioles top players going north. John McGraw would stay in Baltimore and took over the managerial duties from Hanlon. The Orioles despite the loss of several key players remained competitive posting a record of 86-62 as they finished in fourth place. The Superbas meanwhile carried on the Orioles success, capturing the pennant with a record of 101-47. When the National League decided to eliminate four teams, the Orioles despite being one of the strongest teams over the last decade were folded. Most of the Orioles top players would land in Brooklyn, while the remainder were free to sign with other teams.
20th Century: The elimination of the Baltimore Orioles opened the door for a second Major League. In 1901, just one season after the National League’s contraction the American League was born, with a new Baltimore Orioles being one of the eight charter franchises. The American League Orioles would have short life, as they relocated to New York becoming the Highlanders in 1903. The Highlanders would go on to become the New York Yankees, the premiere franchise in all of baseball, thanks to a Baltimore native named George Herman Ruth. While the Yankees became a dynasty the Baltimore Orioles became one of the top Minor League franchises. Baltimore would later get a team in the Federal League, but Major League Baseball would not return to the charm city until the Baltimore Orioles were reborn in 1954.
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Page created on February 28, 2016. Last updated on February 28, 2016 at 11:45 pm ET.